Is Fast Casual Dying? Emerging Brands Tell a Different Story

Despite major losses on the Nasdaq for national fast casual brands like Chipotle, Panera Bread, and Noodles & Company, fast casual emerging brands like Freshii, Corelife Eatery, and Sweetgreen are growing.

Based on Top 150 Emerging Brands Data

Based on Top 150 Emerging Brands Data

Foodable defines an emerging brand as a concept that finds itself at the beginning stages of development, whether it’s just launching or it’s working through the minutiae of scaling and expansion.

According to Foodable Labs, restaurant traffic overall has gone down 6.8 percent year over year, based on social media mentions of the top 1,000 chains, while emerging fast casual brands have seen an 8.2 percent increase in restaurant traffic.

Nasdaq claims that fast casual is a dying trend, but we believe this is just a shift in the trend.
Emerging brands can’t stay an emerging brand forever, eventually, they begin to scale and gain notoriety across the nation, if done right. National brands like Chipotle are simply seeing natural market forces.

They face greater competition as they continue to expand, as well as more challenges. Whereas an emerging brand is just beginning to build brand recognition. Emerging brands are more nimble when they’re smaller and face less scrutiny.

To learn more about what that exactly means for restaurants, be sure to watch the video above and download the Top 150 Emerging Brands Report.

Top Digital Marketing Trends You Can't Ignore

Video Produced by Vanessa C. Rodriguez

Noodles & Company has positioned itself as a leading brand in the Fast Casual Restaurant space through its digital marketing. The company has been around for over 20 years and has expanded in 35 states across the United States under the direction of Kevin Reddy, who stepped down as CEO and chairman from the board of directors in late July 2016 “to pursue new personal and financial opportunities,” as reported by Nation’s Restaurant News.

Despite the recent change in leadership, we can learn a few things about how they have been working to reposition their brand through their Asian Exploration marketing campaign called "Made Different."

In this episode of "On Foodable Weekly," we are joined by Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Noodles & Company, Mark Mears, who discusses where the company is spending their marketing dollars and why, current marketing trends, and the importance of guest engagement.

Top Digital Marketing Concepts

“I think you’ll see across the board that most marketers are putting more of their marketing resources into digital versus mass media, but the idea that mass media is dead… it couldn’t be [further] from the truth.”

Mears believes that the art and science of marketing is blending to where marketers are looking at how to maximize their mass reach while using micro-targeted messaging techniques through an integrated marketing approach.

“Our plan across the country is digital because it’s targetable, it’s situational, and it’s certainly measurable,” Mears said.

Staying relevant is the key focus for Mears and his marketing team in order to reach profitable sales. This summer, they are investing in a new guest engagement program in order to achieve just that: increased relevancy.

“We know that today’s guests are harder to reach with media fragmentation. We know they are a bit more cynical about marketing and messaging. So really, it’s about creating relationships,” Mears said.

Watch the full episode to learn more!

Fast Casual Losing Its Luster With Investors

Fast Casual

According to Nation’s Restaurant News’ Restaurant Stock Index, restaurant stocks are down three percent over the past three months, hitting fast-casual chains especially hard.

Fast-casual chains fell an average of nine percent in the second quarter of 2016, according to the index. Specifically, Chipotle Mexican Grill fell 14 percent in the second quarter and Noodles & Company down nearly 18 percent in the second quarter.

But they are not the only ones. In the first half of the year, casual dining concepts declined nearly 9 percent, 8 percent in the second quarter. Ignite Restaurant Group, which includes Joe’s Crab Shack, is down nearly 63 percent for the year. Ruby Tuesday has dropped almost 30 percent just since March. Rave Restaurant Group is in similar, or worse, straits (down almost 50 percent).

But the news isn’t all bad. As a result of an acquisition by JAB Beech, Krispy Kreme is up almost 40 percent while the 25 percent and up crowd includes Texas Roadhouse, Cracker Barrel, and Zoe’s Kitchen. Read more

Top 3 Mobile Restaurant Brands of Q3 2015

Top 3 Mobile Restaurant Brands of Q3 2015

The “m” word has become a favorite amongst technologists and restaurant operators. The mainstream shift to mobile is evidence that the future is here, and the real future is filled with technological opportunity that we might not yet be able to imagine. As it currently stands, brands must have some type of mobile presence to engage with consumers in their comfort zone — in their phone world.

Below, pulled from the Restaurant Social Media Index (RSMI), Foodable Labs brings you the Top 3 Mobile Brands of Q3 2015.

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The Vegan Experience: Noodles & Company

The Vegan Experience: Noodles & Company

Some may say noodles are so boring. Spaghetti, rigatoni, alfredo... you know the drill.  I used to feel this way about pasta for a long time, especially after a long period of  having to eat spaghetti once a week for waytoolong. Even before the unwelcome carbo load, ordering pasta while dining out just seemed so blasé, unless it had an element worthy of the event – a crazy good, creative sauce can go a long way. This still holds true. Then came solace.

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